How to Use a Mentor to Your Advantage

Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Hiring [ 0 Comments ]

mentorAs a small business owner, you probably feel like you are working 24/7 and are doing so by  yourself (perhaps you have a partner, but neither one of you is working less because of it).  You may feel very lonely at times, despite being surrounded by family, friends, clients, vendors and employees.  Part of the problem may be that none of them truly understand what you are going through.  One of the solutions to this problem: Find a mentor who has been there and done that and can completely relate to what you are going through.  How do you find a good mentor?  Take a look at these tips:

Tips and Tricks To Finding a Good Mentor

1. Get rid of the “yes men.” You will rarely have real, insightful dialogue by surrounding yourself with people who always agree and never challenge you to think outside the box.  There is significant value in having someone who can offer a different viewpoint…even if you choose to go in a different direction.

2. Meet people. I know it’s difficult to step away from your business, but getting out to meet people is one of the only ways to find people who have the answers to your questions.  Go to events, get involved in discussions online, and follow blogs.  Look for someone who believes in your goals and wants to help you succeed without any ulterior motives.

3. Ask questions. You can’t get an answer to a question you don’t ask.  More importantly, conversations evolve after you ask the first question, opening up the discussion to really get down to the root of the issue you are facing or decision you have to make.

4. Don’t put pressure on the relationship. Don’t force any formality or structure on the mentor relationship if you do not want to.  Meet with your mentor when you can, and try to at least touch base on a regular basis, but it can be informal and via email, phone systems, or social media – it doesn’t always have to be in person.  Lean on your mentor when you have any problems, but also celebrate your successes and discuss growth opportunities.

5. Take your time. It’s like any relationship.  Take the time to get to know your mentor, and establish a rapport with them.  When you feel more comfortable with your mentor, and he/she with you, it will be easier to open up and discuss the underlying business plans and ideas and issues you are facing.  Try to find someone that complements your personality.  This does NOT mean find someone who is exactly like you.  If you are a procrastinator, find someone who is a stickler for time.  If you are shy, maybe find someone who is more outspoken.  The balance will typically lead to great results.

6. Remember that both of you are always learning. Whenever I speak to SCORE volunteers, many of them share with me that they are continuously inspired, rejuvenated, and learning from their mentees.  Don’t be afraid to share your opinions and tell what you have learned in your process.  Everyone should always be learning and adapting to life’s lessons.

Now that you are armed with the tips you need to find the right mentor, take advantage of some free resources available right now.  Reach out to a local mentoring service near you, whether it’s your local SCORE chapter, your local Small Business Development Center, or Women’s Business Center.  They are all there to help you achieve your dreams.

Photo Credit:

Bridget Weston Pollack is the director of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services. Prior experience includes Marketing Manager at Mid-Atlantic Control Systems, a small business in the commercial low voltage industry and Marketing Coordinator at Temple University Health Systems.

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